Monday, July 31, 2006

High Maintenance???

Who would ever use this term to describe sweet Vivian? I can't believe I did several times, right here on this blog! She will be 5 months this week and oh what a sweet sweet baby she has become!

She loves to lay on the floor and play with her toys and roll and scoot in circles. She will also sit in her bouncy or swing, but she prefers to be able to move around. We started her on cereal and she eats like a pro! Ok eating like a pro, I think that is a prerequisite to be a member of this family.

She is putting herself to sleep in the crib (out of the bassinet in our room. YES!) and she has even slept the whole night for three straight nights now! It is amazing how much I have missed a full nights rest!

Well that is just a quick update on my high maintenance girl turned sweet angel!

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Need a good laugh?

Check out these family friendly kids funny stories at Life in a Shoe. Good for lots of laughs. I submitted the story of Uncle Eric buying birthday cards with his kids.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Frugal Fridays - Our Frugal home (Tour of Homes)

Today is BooMama's Tour of Homes. Thanks so much to her for hosting this. And if you have never been here before please feel free to look around. I normally talk about something frugal on Fridays, but today I will be showing it to you.

A little background; we live on 100 wooded acres with my parents. We moved here about a year ago. We live in a double wide now with hopes to build our "realistic dream home." We (well mostly my dad) have done most everything around here ourselves. It has been a slow process, but has saved us a ton of money. For example we bought this home used and with all we have in it (moving it, foundation ect) we have spent about $15,000. Not bad for a three bedroom, 2 bath home. It even has a fireplace. It is the first time we have had one and we love it. Of course we also have all the free firewood we could ever use! Ok now on to the tour.

I know BooMama asked for a picture of the front door first, but this is really the beginning of our home. This is our driveway. It actually isn't our property here, only a right away to our property that is about 3/4 of a mile from here.

This is the front door. Yes, we do have a sidewalk and porch now, no still no grass. I think the plan now is to wait until fall to plant grass so we don't have to water so much!

Here is me in the office working on this blog. Actually, this is supposed to be the dining room, but we use it as an office. It is pretty small. We could probably get our family into it, but wouldn't be able to open up our table when we have guests, so we opted to put the table in the family room.

The family room is a large room. Nolan is in the living area of the room. Sorry the pictures of this room are dark. We tried to get as much light as possible, but without much success. I doesn't really show the room well either, but I couldn't resist the picture of Nolan. The fireplace is pretty much behind where Nolan is in the far corner. There is a sliding glass door on the back wall with a nice view into the woods. Eventually there will be a deck there too.

And yes, I did pick up this morning, but with four kids, ok never mind the four kids, just with Nolan "picked up" lasts for about ten seconds! I wasn't quick enough! So as BooMama said this is the "real deal"

Here is a shot from the other side of the room, showing our dining area.

I really enjoy my kitchen. There really isn't enough counter or cupboard space, (now is there ever enough ladies?) but it is spacious. I love the two windows by the sink. The view isn't too pretty there right now, but I can see the kids and watch the birds. This spring I could watch a momma bird and her babies from these windows. We also have a small table and my great grandmothers dry sink on the other side of this room.

Well for the last picture I couldn't decide what to use. My bedroom... not a chance that is always the last room to get cleaned and the doors are usually shut when people are over. There really isn't anything else I'd like to show in the house. I have lots of favorite spots outside, but it is difficult to go on a hike alone with Vivian and Nolan, so I didn't get to those spots today. I decided to show you where I have spent the most time outside recently.
At the blackberry bushes. I guess it is a favorite spot because I love getting all the free berries. Yes, I get sweaty and scratched up, but there is a certain satisfaction in doing the work and getting the reward. We try to go first thing in the morning when it is cooler. The kids go with me. Vivian sleeps in the stroller, Nolan steals berries from everyone's basket and Kellen and Lydia find their own spots to pick. It is generally a quiet time for me. I can do a lot of thinking while picking berries. That doesn't happen many other places.

So this is our frugal living space on the 100 Acre Wood. Next Friday I plan to share some of the other frugal shelters Tim and I have had over the years. Thanks for stopping by, come again soon!

Thursday, July 27, 2006

They will eat Zucchini

Have too much zucchini? Well we don't due to some fertilizer issues. I will let my mom explain if she wishes. But I know now is the time of year when you often have zucchini coming out your ears and if you don't have any of your own every friend is trying to pawn them off on you.

So a friend of mine gave me this great recipe along with a big bag of zucchini. It is Zucchini Strudel. It looks and tastes like apple you don't even have to tell the kids or hubby that it is really zucchini.

Zucchini Strudel


6-8 C pared, diced zucchini
2/3 C lemon juice
1 C sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg


4 C flour
2 C sugar
3 sticks margarine

Cut zucchini lengthwise and scoop out seeds. Peel and slice crosswise into 1/4 inch thick slices. Cook with lemon juice until tender.

In a separate bowl, blend four, sugar and butter with a pastry blender until crumbly. Pat half of mixture into a 9X13 pan. Bake at 375 for 10 minutes.

While crust is baking, add remaining ingredients to filling and let cool. When crust is finished spread zucchini mixture over the crust and top with remaining crust mixture. Bake for 30 minutes at 375.

This is her recipe. When I made it I used more nutmeg and cinnamon. About 2 tsp nutmeg and 2 TB cinnamon. I also added blackberries (about a cup or two) since I have blackberries in abundance. It made a nice combination.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Tour of Homes

BooMama is hosting a tour of blogger homes. Basically she has said that she can't read a blog without imagining what the persons house looks like. So after some friends suggestions she decide to host a tour of homes.

I think it sounds like fun and will give you a glimse of the 100 Acre Wood if you haven't been here. And it also gives me a little motivation to pick up the house! It is like having company. The tour is on Friday and yes I intend to tie in Frugal Fridays with the tour.

Interested? Check it out here
and join in the fun.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Festival of Frugality in Limericks

Today's festival is hosted by Penny Nickel at Money and Values Even if you don't want to check out the entries you have to go check out how she wrote it all in limericks. It is great. Hopefully you will find some good frugal tips too!

Monday, July 24, 2006

Thit List

Yesterday we celebrated Kellen's 8th birthday. His actual birthday was Friday, but we waited until today to go out to eat and have cake and presents. It was interesting as always.

To preface this story please understand that my brother Eric is deaf. His first language is American Sign Language. English is a second language to him. One he is not very fluent in.

He took the kids to the store to each pick out a card and gift for Kellen. The gifts were good ones, the cards . . . well this is where the language becomes an issue.

Kellen opened Ashley's first. The card has a caricature of a chiuawau on the outside. The inside says "It's your birthday and I couldn't be more excited - well, not without wetting myself!" Ok elementary potty humor, funny no biggie!

Miles' pick; the outside has a picture of a duck wrapped up in toilet paper, "I couldn't forget to thend you a birthday card." Inside of the card "I don't want to end up on your thit list" As Kellen is reading this card all the adults, except Eric, are choking on their ice cream cake. Kellen is stumbling over the word "thit" because it looks like a nonsense word to him. The other kids are looking at us like "what I don't get it?"

My dad tries to explain it to them without actually saying what "thit" is. You know the "s" word. We are all rolling and then Miles pipes up, "Oh I just thought it meant to be on your birthday list."

Saturday, July 22, 2006

A story about my grandpa

My maternal grandparents died when I was fairly young. I do remember them, but not well. Last fall my mom told me this story about grandpa. He was a farmer in Wayne County, Ohio. As a farmer he worked very hard, but had down time in the winter. To fill this time grandpa would gather hickory nuts in the fall. Then all winter he would shell them and when there were enough grandma would bake a cake.

In my head I imagined grandpa doing this and all the cakes they must have eaten. (Do you see where this is going?) So my mom took the kids out and gathered hickory nuts. Then I took the kids out later and gathered more. Now at this time I was very pregnant with Vivian so the whole bending over thing to gather wasn't working well. I pretty much sat down and scooted around to gather nuts. All in all we got quite a few nuts.

The outer husk of the hickory nut comes off fairly easy, but then comes the cracking. Hickory nuts are hard, very hard. When cracking with a hammer the break into lots of little pieces. And they are not one nice piece like a walnut. There is nut meat in lots of little crevices. I am thinking this must be why hickory nuts are not available commercially. No wonder it took grandpa all winter. He probably only ate a cake or two! We ate none.

So our trip to Lehmans to purchase our mystery object a nutcracker. It cracks those hickories like they are nothing. You still have to pick to get all the nutmeat out, but it doesn't shatter the shell and is much easier.

I haven't gotten a chance to use it much yet. I am elbow deep in blackberries now. I have big plans for it in the fall and winter. We still have some hickory nuts. They stay good indefinitely in their shell. I want to gather walnuts too. I am hoping to not have to buy any nuts for baking.

So Aunt D it is a crusher of sorts. And of course Delilah and jsunshine already knew what the item was. Thanks for guessing!

Friday, July 21, 2006

Frugal Fridays - Teaching our Kids to be Frugal

Today is Kellen's birthday. His eighth. One thing that Kellen has asked for his birthday is to eat at Longhorn Steakhouse. How do you teach an eight year old that prefers steakhouses to McDonald's (we created that monster I am afraid) to be frugal?

Frugal is a hard concept to learn when you are a kid. The line between wants and needs is very blurry when your eight. Wants vs. needs has been the topic of discussion at Larger Families this past week. I recommend you check out some of the entries. Kids are bombarded with media trying to create needs from wants. There are peers who seem to have so much more than you. There is family who wants to make you happy by giving you what you want.

I hope that our kids learn to be frugal from watching and listening to us. I do try to distinguish wants/needs with them. We try hard to limit "stuff." I think though, that they need experience with money in order to really get this concept. Kellen has asked for an allowance. It is something we have discussed here and there for awhile. We think it is time.

We won't be giving him much. Three dollars a week. That amount was determined because it makes it easy to use his bank. We got this bank a few years back. Basically it is divided into three parts to help kids budget their money. The church part for giving, the store for spending and the bank for saving.

He has told me he wants to save his money for the Lego Star Wars Death Star This particular Lego set costs $300! Oh, he has a lot to learn about frugalness. I mentioned to him that he would have to save a long time for something like that. (He doesn't know what his allowance is yet) He told me that he would not only use his bank money, but his store money too. At $2 a week the Death Star is a long way away. I think reality will set in. I am hoping that having his own money to spend will help to instill some frugalness in the form of careful selection and patience. Maybe I can show him how to shop around for the objects he wants. How do you teach these concepts to the children in your life?

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Do you know what this is?

While we were in Ohio we visited Lehmans We grew up in Amish country near Kidron where Lehmans hardware is. If you are not familiar with Lehmans it is a hardware store. It has lots of non-electric items. They are right next to one of the largest livestock auctions in the area. From what I understand they did a huge amount of internet business around Y2K. They also get a lot of tourist traffic.

We have lived in several areas in Ohio and now we are in West Virginia. It always amazes me how in awe of the Amish people are. I used to try to correct them and point out all the things that bug me about the Amish. Don't get me wrong there are lots of great things. My family tree is mostly Amish so I it is part of my history and culture, but hey Amish are people. There are good ones, bad ones and a lot in between. Now I don't try to educate people unless they ask I just nod and say yes Amish country is beautiful. (It is!) Anyhow that is not what I meant to blog about! :)

Ok back to the topic sorry about the vent. While at Lehman's we purchased the item pictured above. Actually we went there specifically to purchase this. I saw it online and figured we would save the shipping and just stop in. Do you know what this is? Maybe this is too easy, but I will give you a hint anyway. It will help me with foraged food.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Spoke too soon!

Ok so it was quiet. Mom goes to work and all the kids are here and the house is chaos. I even sent them outside to play in the sprinkler and there is still fighting and tattling! UGH! I guess enjoy the quiet while you can!

The house is so quiet.

Yes, you read that right. It is like Vivian is an only child. The oldest cousins are here. (Just missing jude and Elise are they ready for a visit?) You would think that would make the house even louder. Well, it may have made mom's house louder, but it is quiet here!:)Nolan was out the door as soon as he could manage. Lydia and Kellen had things to take care of, but followed shortly. Ashley, Lydia and Nolan have been outside some and at mom's. Kellen and Miles are holed up in Kellen's room reading Guinness Book of World Records. I probably should kick them outside to play, but they are very quiet and it has been very hot and humid here (now it is 88 with 57% humidity) so I am letting them enjoy the air. So all the kids are occupied except Viv who of course still sleeps a lot. Oh blessed peace and quiet! It makes tackling my Monday mountain of laundry a bit more bearable!

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Oops missed again

Well I missed Frugal Fridays again! I am slackin'! I was on vacation the first week I missed and I had every intention of posting this Friday, but . . .

The week was crazy, catching up from vacation and also trying to get ready for a kids church camp out we were hosting Friday and Saturday. Then the rain started. My dad was trying his best to get stone down to help with the mud. And it kept on raining. Thursday morning I woke up with a stomach ache, but I still needed to get the food for the camp out. So Vivian and I headed to Wal Mart first thing. My stomach was not feeling well, but we made it through.

When we got home I had a message to call the pastor's wife (Linda). She is the one who was coordinating the camp out. It was still raining and the forecast was for rain. We decided to move the camp out to a park with shelters for the day and overnight at the church. Thankfully, she did all the phone calls and scrambling. I just had to rethink the food and sort it for what went to the park and what went to the church and had to think about packing our stuff.

I was still feeling bad so I thought I would take a nap and try to do the stuff later. It takes a lot to keep me down, but 103 temperature will do it. I was in bed the rest of the day. I slept in between updates on the camp out, trips to the bathroom, trying to let Tim know how to pack up the stuff and feeding the baby. I asked my mom if she could go do the cooking bit for the camp out.

My fever broke sometime early Friday morning. I still ached a bit, but at 7:00 I decided I would go and packed up the Tylenol. The camp went well. It was interesting, but good. I may blog some more about it later. For a little taste there was a boy there whose name was Rowdy. No that is not his nickname that is his actual name. Mom still came and helped and I felt ok but a little wiped out. It was nice to have help. Today I feel tired, but just a lack of sleep tired, not aching sick tired.

So please forgive me for not living up to my promised Friday post. I will get one done this week. Nothing big happening this week, just a trip to the library, the cousins are here, Vivian's Dr. appointment, Kellen's birthday . . . . Oh you know just the normal busy! :)

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Audience Participation Please!

Lately I have had several people ask me how I have time to blog. I don't know I just make time I guess. I have said it before, but I do believe we all make time (and find money) for what is truly important to us. How we spend our time (and money) shows what is important to us. I do spend some time almost everyday writing or reading blogs so they must be important to me. I had to think it through though. There are lots of other things I could be (or maybe should be) doing yet I choose to spend time here. Why?

Well I started blogging as a means of communication, to keep up with family and friends. Tim started this and then other family members and friends joined in. I started blogging when Tim got too busy with work.

Since then blogging has become more of hobby or entertainment for me. I don't scrapbook or cross stitch or knit. I do like to read, but honestly reading or writing blogs is easier with four kids than reading a novel. We don't watch a lot of TV. We do sit in front of the computer a lot! :)

Blogging is a quick escape or break. It is some me time between kids needing me. It is adult talk! It is a chance to have contact with the outside, to see how loved ones are, to learn some frugal ideas, to laugh at the funny stories, to know that there are others going through the same stuff and interact with each other. I recently read on someone's blog (sorry I don't remember which one) that blogging was community to her and I guess it is to me also. It isn't the same as face to face community, but there is a sense of community none the less.

Finding time isn't all that hard. Time is found in the mornings when (if) I get up before the kids, in the afternoon when two are asleep and the other two are playing or at night after they go to bed (well all but nightowl Vivian.) Sometimes I will read blogs while Vivian nurses. It is a bit difficult to type then, but I have done it! Often though I will think through a subject I want to write about during feeding times, or dishes or cooking or picking raspberries!

So I am wondering why do you blog? Whether you read, write or both why do you choose to use your valuable time to be here? When do you find the time to blog? This is an audience participation blog! Please share with us!

Monday, July 10, 2006

It's Good to be Home - Rambling!

It is always nice to get away. To get out of the routine. To do different things. But I am always ready to come home. We had a great week in Ohio. It was extremely busy. See Tim's blog for more details.

It is funny how quickly your perspective changes. Before we moved to WV, we lived in Akron, a small city in Ohio. We lived near downtown on a very busy street. Lots of traffic, lots of close neighbors. It never bothered me. Now we live in the woods. (hence Adventures in the 100 acre wood!) Our closest neighbor is about 3/4 of a mile away. (except my parents) In the summer no other houses are visible. We go to visit
Tim's family who live in rural Ohio and one of our first comments were how much traffic noise they have! And yes they live near a fairly busy road, but it has maybe 1/4 of the traffic we were used to in Akron less than one year ago!

Now we are back to our 100 acre wood and it feels good. This week is also busy. We are having a camp out here for the kids at church this Friday and a church picnic on Saturday. Lots to clean up and get ready outside. We left the house in good shape, (I can't stand to come back from a long trip to a mess.) but there is of course a mountain of laundry to do and mail, bills and blogs to catch up on. It will get done. I am not going to stress over it.

I decided while we were gone that when we got back, we needed to start letting Vivian cry it out to go to sleep. She does well going to sleep during the day, but at night we were having a rough time. While we were gone I learned to play poker. (just fun no money) We would try to play at night after the kids (except Vivian) went to sleep. She was such a stinker. She would go to sleep and after I put her down she would wake up within ten minutes. It was so aggravating. I tried every trick I know!! Three nights I just gave up (this was around 11:30 or later) and went to bed with her while the rest of the adults played cards. Of course she slept just fine then! UGH! And we moved her to the crib when Tim came to bed.

So today for her first nap I did the routine with her and put her down. She never even broke into a full cry and was asleep within 20 minutes. Her second nap we were running around so she slept in the car. This evening I did the routine and put her down. In about five minutes she was crying. I cleaned up the kitchen, folded laundry (it is easier for me to let her cry if I am busy), she was quiet. I went in to check on her (dumb move) and she wasn't quite asleep. She started crying again. I started blogging. Within a few minutes she was quiet again. I didn't check on her this time. Keep typing! After a few more minutes still quiet. I check the monitor to be sure, still quiet. Very gently open the bedroom door and SHE IS ASLEEP! Ok now the kick yourself in the rear time. Why didn't we do this months ago???!!! You would think on the fourth child I would know to try this sooner.

The other thing I really want to accomplish before Tim goes back to work full time (mid August) is potty training Nolan. We got a start on this awhile back, but haven't really been consistent with it. Part of the problem is he now thinks it is funny to poop in his diaper. I think because we have made too big a deal of it. You know "Oh yucky. You went poop in your diaper!" The other problem is I really need three or four days (in a row) to work with him. Days where we don't have to run anywhere and I am not hard pressed to get a bunch of stuff done at home. Ok I rarely have one day like that let alone three or four in a row! I think I need to just mark out three days on the calendar and just do it! Or maybe he will just wake up tomorrow and just decide to be potty trained! Oh wow I just drifted to lala land there I think! :)

Ok so now Vivian is asleep and I am still rambling on. It is good to be home. Good to be back with you all and good to get back to the normal. Even if normal means mountains of laundry, an empty refrigerator, and two in diapers!

Sunday, July 09, 2006

I'm Back!

Sorry to drop off the face of the earth like that! We went on vacation July 2 and lost internet service two days before we left. Well we are back and so is the internet. Not much time now. I will post later!